President Trump fired White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus Friday afternoon. It has long been suspected that Priebus was on thin ice with the administration. The firing came after a vulgar, humiliating and demeaning attack by new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci unleashed a profane torrent of insults against Priebus in a phone interview with New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza.
President Trump announced his replacement for Reince Priebus on Friday afternoon. In fact, it was this announcement that informed the public that Priebus was out.
Trump chose to replace Reince Priebus with General John Kelly. Before taking the Chief of Staff position, Kelly was serving as the Secretary of Homeland Security. Kelly brings with him years of military experience. He has an intimate understanding of the chain of command. President Trump evidently appointed him to order the chaos that defines his White House.
Kelly has also taken a publicly hard line on leakers, a position much appreciated by the President who undoubtedly expects Kelly to stop the leaking that is an epidemic in his administration.
Kelly comes to the White House with glowing support. He has been seen as a successful and efficient General and has also been quite successful in implementing the President’s agenda at the Department of Homeland Security.
His position as White House Chief of Staff is sure to prove more challenging than his previous efforts. The President may see the appointment of law and order military man as a magic cure for what ails his administration.
It is unlikely to be that simple. Trump himself prefers to surround himself with a degree of chaos, infighting, and drama. Kelly will have to navigate the complicated dynamics with some very big personalities. Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sebastian Gorka, Jared Kushner and Anthony Scaramucci are all strong minded people close to the President.
It remains to be seen if Kelly will be given authority over all of the staff, even those who currently enjoy a direct line to the President. Kelly has stepped into a White House deeply embroiled in the Russia investigation. There is likely little he can do to get the administration out of the mess he inherited.
Nixon similarly appointed Haig in the midst of the Watergate investigation. Haig found himself unable to dig the White House out of the hole he found them in and ended up fueling some of the worst behavior of that scandal.
With no chance that the President will change his ways, will get off twitter, or will stop attacking his own, Kelly is likely to be frustrated with the fact that he cannot reset this White House because he cannot reset this President.